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The BBC's Brian Milligan reports
"Nissans problem has been the strength of sterling"
 real 56k

Sunday, 10 December, 2000, 17:40 GMT
Fears over Nissan job losses
Micras on production line
Unions fear the Micra will go to French Renault factories
Japanese car maker Nissan may be about to move production of its Micra model out of the UK and onto the Continent, threatening up to 1,300 jobs.

An official decision on whether the new car should be built in Sunderland or France is not due until January, but some in the industry fear the company is poised to move the Micra to the Continent.

They say production could go to a Renault plant - the carmaker which owns one third of Nissan.

Unions in Sunderland believe there is still a chance of keeping the new Micra.

Production line at Nissan's Sunderland plant
Job fears: Unions say 1,300 at risk

Nissan has complained that the strength of the pound against the euro has made its cars uneconomical to export.

Nissan's Sunderland factory is Europe's most productive car plant and employs 5,000 people.

But about 80% of the cars produced there are exported to mainland Europe and sterling's strength cuts into the profit made on many of these sales.

Union leaders such as Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, have warned of the costs for carmakers of the UK remaining outside the eurozone.

'No future'

"If we stay out of the euro, then in my view the future of motoring manufacturing in this country would be virtually nil," Sir Ken told BBC1's On The Record programme.

"I'm extremely worried the Nissan Micra could be lost to Britain," he added, warning also of political pressure to build the model in France.

The UK car industry has already had a tough year.

Rover nearly closed after BMW said it was to sell the loss-making company. It was eventually saved by the Phoenix consortium.

Ford recently announced that it would end car production at Dagenham by 2002, with the loss of several thousand jobs.

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See also:

30 Oct 00 | Business
'Le cost killer' strikes at Nissan
28 Aug 00 | Business
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Blair in talks over Nissan jobs
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Aid offer to Nissan
18 Apr 00 | Business
Sterling forces Nissan cuts
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